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Information update

Health Canada Raises Concerns About the Use of Unprocessed Human Milk

Starting date:
November 25, 2010
Posting date:
November 25, 2010
Type of communication:
Information Update
Microbiological - Other, Microbiological - Staphylococcus aureus, Affects children, pregnant or breast feeding women
Source of recall:
Health Canada
Product Safety, Microbial Hazard, Poisoning Hazard
General Public
Identification number:

Health Canada advises Canadians to be aware of the potential health risks associated with consuming human breast milk obtained through the Internet or directly from individuals.

Obtaining human milk from the Internet or directly from individuals raises health concerns because, in most cases, medical information about the milk donors is not known. The Canadian Paediatric Society does not endorse the sharing of unprocessed human milk.

There is a potential risk that the milk may be contaminated with viruses such as HIV or bacteria which can cause food poisoning, such as Staphylococcus aureus. In addition, traces of substances such as prescription and non-prescription drugs can be transmitted through human milk. Improper hygiene when extracting the milk, as well as improper storage and handling, could also cause the milk to spoil or be contaminated with bacteria and/or viruses that may cause illness.

Breastfeeding promotes optimal infant growth, health and development and is recognized internationally as the best method of feeding infants. However, unprocessed human milk should not be shared.

Health Canada recommends that Canadians consult their health care professional should they have questions about breastfeeding or if they are considering purchasing human milk or acquiring it through the Internet or directly from individuals.

For more information on child health and breastfeeding, visit:

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